Wired poses an interesting idea: What if AP re-organized as a cooperative, not of newspapers, but of online content providers such as Google and Yahoo!? The end of the story notes that the idea is unrealistic, but it’s intriguing. The story, btw, compares AP’s current business model as selling drugs to late-stage cancer patients. Ouch.
Why doesn’t AP give up the non-profit status, buy out members’ interest, and sell itself to a new co-op of internet companies, such as AOL, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft? Conceptually, it would be a lateral rather than a forward “Hail Mary” pass since they’d be replacing one consortium that was once the center of the news universe — newspapers — with the current publishing leaders.
The price for AP probably would be cheap — the company generated a little over $710 million in sales last year; it earned a paltry $24 million; and members’ equity totaled $89.2 million. But from a strategic standpoint, AP could be better off if it were owned by web players rather than newspapers — and internet companies are probably much better positioned to make money off AP, the world’s largest news gathering association.
Granted, there’s little chance AP could get all 1,500 equity holders to agree to sell. And even if they did, there’s no way of knowing what AP would look like in 25 years.